Sweden introducing STASI surveillance law
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Sweden nears vote on e-mail, phone monitoringBy Mikael Ricknäs , IDG News Service , 11 june 2008
The battle for the hearts and minds of Swedish politicians is heating up. Next week the country's parliament will vote on a bill that would allow local authorities to monitor e-mail, fax messages and telephone calls. The vote could be very close.
The bill, if passed, will let the Swedish Defense Radio Establishment, a civilian organization that falls under the Ministry of Defense, listen in on wired traffic that passes Swedish borders, to protect against what has been dubbed "external threats."
On Wednesday, Stoppa FRA-lagen (which means stopping the law in Swedish) -- a newly formed network of opponents -- bought an ad in Dagens Nyheter (Daily News), Sweden's largest daily newspaper. The ad warns that everything you do on the Internet will be monitored, and all phone calls will be monitored.
Stoppa FRA-lagen's goal is to drum up public opinion against the bill, and sway the minds of at least a few members of the parliament from the ruling coalition, according to the group's spokesman Mikael Nilsson.Sweden's parliament has 349 members from seven parties. The majority coalition in Parliament, which comprises several political parties, supports the bill. However, opposition parties oppose it. For the bill to pass, four members of that majority coalition would have to vote against the bill for it to fail.
Sweden's new wiretapping law 'much worse than the Stasi'
Published: 10 Jun 08 11:52 CET
With just a week to go before the Swedish parliament is expected to pass a controversial wiretapping law, Pirate Party leader Rickard Falkvinge urges people to do all they can to block the legislation.
On June 17th the Swedish parliament is set to vote on the introduction of a new "signal surveillance" law.
What the law means is that all telephone and internet operators will be forced to attach a large cable to the state's supercomputer, where the state will be able to keep a record of everything said in telephone conversations, surfed on the web or written on the internet.
The law can best be described by the more explanatory term "general surveillance". Instead of just criminal suspects having their phones tapped, now everyone will be tapped via their phones, emails, web surfing, faxes etc.
But the state won't keep a record of everything. First it will scan all phone calls, emails and so on, in real time. Anything that is "considered interesting" on the basis of 250,000 search criteria, will be saved for further investigation.
All our phone calls, emails and surfing habits will be observed by Sweden's National Defence Radio Establishment (Försvarets Radioanstalt - FRA), which is why the proposed legislation is known as the "FRA law".
There are no courts involved, and the government and all its agencies - including the police and the security police - will be able to snoop around in the tapped phone and email correspondence of its citizens.
This is much, much worse than the East German Stasi, which was only capable of tapping a small sector of the population. This is also something that has been pointed out by German members of parliament with first-hand experience of the Stasi.
Proponents of the law say it "only concerns cross-border communications". Unfortunately this is a bare-faced lie. Records of communications will be kept at 20 nodal points, strategically placed to capture all communications that cross Sweden's borders. But any internal communications that happen to come into contact with any one of these nodes will also be analyzed by the state. Essentially this means that everyone will be affected since, for technical reasons, most phone calls and emails between two Swedes pass through another country.
Proponents say that "this has absolutely nothing to do with Swedes; FRA isn't allowed to investigate Swedes if there is no substantial cause". This is a dishonest formulation. Another way of saying exactly the same thing would be: "FRA may snoop on Swedes as part of this mass wiretapping scheme if certain criteria are met". In fact, the entire statement is dishonest, since the legislation up for debate only concerns signal surveillance for the military. What these people don't mention is that the FRA already carries out surveillance for the police using exactly the same staff and the same wiretapping network.
Proponents say that "only a very small amount of information will be listened to", and refer to the pieces of information that will be sifted out for further examination. This is also a direct lie. Everything will be listened to. Whatever information is then selected for further examination is irrelevant; the violation of personal integrity occurs when the state gives itself access to its citizens' private communications, not when one of the search terms it uses to filter the data happens to match.
Democracy is reliant on the transparency of power, not the transparency of citizens. All places where the opposite has been the case - where it has been impossible to examine the powers that be, while citizens lack any right to a private life - have been really nasty places to live.
Signal surveillance is supposed to protect us against external threats. In reality, however, it is the surveillance itself that constitutes a direct threat against Swedish democracy.
Aftonbladet has written about the law today (the first time old media have really contributed to the debate). Unfortunately they present the proponents' propaganda as fact. Proponents of the law have shown themselves to be completely unreliable. On May 31st I put forward evidence [in Swedish] showing that they know they are breaking the constitution but they just don't care.
The Pirate Party has long campaigned for the right to a private life. For example, we held a demonstration in central Stockholm recently demanding the right to civil liberties and for an end to all plans for general surveillance.
A campaign site has just gone online called Stoppa FRA-lagen! (Stop the FRA law) with more information about this draconian piece of legislation.
It's high time to get involved. Write to your local member of parliament, talk to friends and acquaintances about what's happening. Anything. Just do something. Before it's too late.
'A declaration of war on Sweden's youth'
Published: 14 Mar 08 18:56 CET
Plans for a new Swedish government proposal to counteract illegal file sharing met with mixed reactions on Friday. The proposal will enable courts to force internet service providers (ISPs) to give out IP addresses used in illegal file sharing to whoever owns the rights to the material.
"This is a declaration of war on an entire generation of young voters," said Pirate Party leader Rickard Falkvinge in a statement.
Falkvinge characterized as "shameful" the government's decision to renege on its promise not to start hunting young people "on behalf of the American movie and music industries."
Rather than "dismantling the rule of law", the government should recognize file sharing as "a techno-historical fact", he said.
Writing in the opinion pages of newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask and Minister of Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth said the government was now united in how to approach the issue.
Those who own the rights to illegally shared content must be able to prove that an internet service subscription has been used for infringement, the ministers pointed out.
The Centre Party, one of four parties in the centre-right coalition government, reluctantly agreed to compromise on the issue despite having certain reservations.
"It's not possible to get things 100 percent your own way in negotiations. It was with a degree of regret that we agreed to go along with this," spokeswoman Annie Johansson told Svenska Dagbladet.
The party had previously said it would not support any policy that entailed releasing IP addresses to the courts.
Speaking to Svenska Dagbladet, The Pirate Bay's Peter Sunde described the move as "completely the wrong way to go and an affront to personal integrity".
With the new proposal, the government is effectively rejecting an alternative proposal put forward in a report by appeals court judge Cecilia Renfors. which called for ISPs to shut down subscribers who repeatedly downloaded films and music without permission.
"It is good that the government has reached a decision on this issue and it is good that they have clearly distanced themselves from the Renfors inquiry, which would have put us providers in a position of having to police our own customers," said Bredbandsbolaget's CEO Marcus Nylén in a statement.
These sentiments were echoed by Martin Tivéus, head of internet service provider Glocalnet.
"It is important that the new copyright laws will take into account users' rightful interest in their own personal integrity," he said. "
Neither we as a provider nor the Anti-Piracy Agency can or should make a decision as to when copyright is more important than personal integrity. For this reason it feels good that the government will hand this task to the courts."
Den 17 juni röstar Sveriges riksdag om att införa allmän avlyssning av alla svenska medborgare. Försvarets Radioanstalt (FRA) ges i uppdrag att avlyssna all kabelburen kommunikation som passerar Sveriges gränser.
Nästan all kommunikation, även inom Sverige, passerar idag gränsen och kommer därmed att avlyssnas. E-post, sms, webbtrafik, chattar och mobil- och telefonsamtal, allt analyseras.
Ingen domstol är inblandad. Ingen brottsmisstanke krävs. Alla behandlas som misstänkta.
Även regering och myndigheter ges befogenhet att söka i den privata kommunikationen. Lagen öppnar för nya, godtyckliga användningsområden. Materialet kan dessutom lätt missbrukas eller hamna i fel händer.
Källskydd och meddelarfrihet blir tomma ord när varje kontakt med media kan vara avlyssnad.
Avlyssningen ska skydda mot odefinierade ”yttre hot”. I själva verket utgör den nya lagen i sig ett allvarligt hot mot det öppna och fria samhället.
178 riksdagsledamöter från alliansen pressas att rösta ja.
Endast 4 av dessa behöver gå emot partilinjen för att förslaget ska falla.
Vilka står upp för ett fritt och öppet samhälle?